Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas is home to a large indigenous population whose traditional arts, crafts and clothing have had a huge impact on the state’s culture. As a tourist, you can find incredible food, sweets, trinkets and embroidery in established local markets or in the mobile open-air markets that open once a week in different towns. We’ve made your shopping excursion easy with our list of Chiapas’s best mercados.
Tianguis Artesanal in Plaza Santo Domingo
Outside one of San Cristóbal’s most beautiful churches, the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, a daily artisan market opens up to sell arts and crafts from throughout the region and across the country. You can find amber jewelry, traditional Chiapan clothing and textiles, leather goods and handmade gifts.
Mercado de Dulces y Artesanías
For a sweet tooth and some great gifts to take back home (because who doesn’t like to get candy as a gift?) stop by the candy and crafts market on Insurgentes Avenue. Make sure to try some of the regional specialities including carmelized pumpkin candies, sweet popcorn, candied apples, coconut bars, and candies made from the yuca root. You can also find handmade jewelry and other regional crafts in this market.
San Cristóbal de las Casa Municipal Market
For something off the regular tourist route, take an afternoon to explore the San Cristóbal Municipal Market where you can indulge in some of the local cuisine and marvel at the endemic fruits and vegetables of the region.
Zinacantán is a fascinating indigenous region in the Los Altos highlands of Chiapas. The Tzotzil Mayan people from the area are particularly know for their colorful and intricately embroidered huipils (a kind of tunic) and the longer, colored tunics adorned by tassels that are worn by the men of the communty. An open air market held every Sunday focuses on these fashions and the region’s latest in textiles.
San Juan Chamula
Just 10 kilometres (6 miles) outside of San Cristóbal sits San Juan Chamula, known for its strong indigienous roots, its corn moonshine pox (pronounced posh) and its indigenous rock band, Vayijel. On Sundays, their market is held in the town’s main square though there is a smaller daily market during the week as well. A great time to visit Chamula is on Día de San Juan (June 24), the day that honors their patron saint. (Note: During Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, the Sunday market is moved to Fridays.)
San Andrés Larráinzar
San Andrés is a little further outside of San Cristóbal than San Juan and was an important location during the 1994 Zapatista revolution that took place in the state. The town is know for its beautiful textiles and the traditional dress of its Tzotzil Mayan people. Its colorful, traditional market is held on Sundays and celebrates the town’s patron saint, San Andrés, on November 30.
Tenejapa is a small Tzeltal farming village with one of the most vibrant markets in the highlands of Chiapas. A small market opens on Sundays, but Thursday is the main market day you should try to catch. It is said that the town’s Carnival of Tenejapa in early February is one of the most beautiful in all of Chiapas and one held to celebrate the patron saint, San Ildefonso, on January 23.
San Pedro Chenalhó
Another small, mostly Tzotzil indigenous village about 30 kilometres (19 miles) outside of San Cristóbal is San Pedro Chenalhó. This village has a large and colorful market on Saturdays where you can find local textiles and crafts as well as foodstuffs and household items.